Picture foils faux photographer

76-year-old man awaits trial on 3 counts of taking Polaroids of unconscious women

Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2002

A picture may be worth $15,000 and three years behind bars for a man who lost his wallet on the Douglas Bridge.

Joseph Harris, 76, is awaiting trial on three counts of indecent viewing or photography, a misdemeanor, after photographs of nude, unconscious women were found in a wallet he had lost, according to court records.

Police said the photos demonstrate proof the women were photographed without their consent or knowledge.

Harris pleaded innocent to the charges at his arraignment Sept. 19.

Harris' wallet was found on the bridge Aug. 5 by someone who turned it in to police, said Officer Terry Allen.

As department employees inventoried the wallet, they found four Polaroid photos, each depicting a different incapacitated, nude woman, Allen said.

Police identified the women and obtained a search warrant for Harris' house.

"We seized a packet of 28 photographs of this nature from his home, but not all of the women in these photos were naked," said Allen. "He was only charged with three counts of indecent viewing though for the three most recent photos because the statute of limitations had run out for the others."

Allen said the photos dated to 1989 with the most recent taken in March 2000.

Allen said police questioned the women and all but one objected to their pictures being taken.

"The other women said they had no idea they had even been at his house, didn't know the photos existed and didn't want him to have them," Allen said.

He said the women told police that around the time the photos were taken they had "alcohol problems."

Police believe Harris would get a woman drunk, take her to his home, wait until she passed out, undress her, photograph her and put her clothes back on, Allen said.

According to court records Harris admitted to police that he took the photos. Harris used the photos for his own personal use, Allen said.

Harris faces up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine for each count. His trial is set for District Court in November.

Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.

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